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I couldn't stop reading this moving tale of slavery in the Deep South during the early nineteenth century. A beautifully written, absorbing fictionalised account of abolitionist sisters Sarah and Angelina Grimké written in chapters alternating between Sarah's account and the account of the young slave Handful gifted to her on her eleventh birthday. The book reads like a joint memoir written by both women.
Sue Monk Kidd gives Handful a voice as she writes about the realities of her life and that of her mother Charlotte 'mauma' the Grimke family seamstress; both slaves owned by the family and both mistreated and punished by the elder Grimké 'missus', wife of Judge Grimké and mother to Sarah and Angelina.
The book begins with Sarah's abhorrence at the thought of 'owning' another person, after she was 'given' Handful on her eleventh birthday as her own personal maid and reveals her feelings of revulsion for the keeping of slaves, the punishments metered out to them on an almost daily basis and the the slave trade as a whole.
Sarah takes Handful under her wing, tries to look out for her welfare and teaches her to read.
Sarah is an intelligent, well-read young girl bored with the education she is given as a young lady preparing for society and marriage as her only options. She reads the law books in her father's library and her prime aim is to become a lawyer. Female lawyers were unheard of at that time. Indulged by her father at first, who finds her entertaining and enjoys her debate, he eventually prevents her from accessing his library and stifles her ambition.
As Sarah matures, she becomes both godmother and mentor to her younger sister 'Nina' Angelina and finds a kindred spirit to pass on her thoughts and educate.
The writer Sue Monk Kidd used primary sources, letters, books, essays, and articles about the Grimkés, slavery, abolition, quilts and African textiles, and early nineteenth-century history for her research towards writing this literary classic
The Invention of Wings Sue Monk Kidd